A judge has approved a $US626 million ($848 million) settlement for residents of Flint in Michigan and others who were exposed to lead-contaminated water.
Most of the money — $US600 million — is coming from the state of Michigan, which was accused of repeatedly overlooking the devastating risks of switching Flint’s water source in 2014 without treating the water to prevent contamination.
“The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant,” US District Judge Judith Levy said.
The settlement was announced in August 2020 by Attorney General Dana Nessel and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who were elected in 2018 while litigation was pending.
Flint managers appointed by former governor Rick Snyder and regulators in his administration allowed the city to use the Flint River in 2014-15 without treating the water to reduce the effects of corrosion.
As a result, lead in old pipes broke off and flowed through taps.
The deal makes money available to every Flint child who was exposed to the water, every adult who can show an injury, certain business owners and anyone who paid water bills.
Flint switched back to a Detroit regional water agency in autumn 2015 after Doctor Mona Hanna-Attisha publicly reported elevated lead levels in children.
Attorneys have been seeking as much as $US200 million in legal fees from the $US626 million settlement.